(NaturalNews) Many natural health enthusiasts are well aware of the benefits of oats and oatmeal. Oats help reduce blood cholesterol levels, remove body fat, and provide an excellent source of healthy carbohydrates. Many people have at least heard of the word "avena" in connection with oatmeal baths and facial masks. However, not as many people are aware of the healing properties contained in oat straw. Calcium-rich oat straw (avena sativa), is the green oat grass and tops in the "milky" stage before the mature oat grains form a head. Many resources in the alternative health literature promote oat straw for osteoporosis and osteopenia. Oat straw is also promoted as being a nervine herb, which can be used as a remedy for anxiety. The herb has been recently proven to aid in cognitive performance in the brain. Oat straw may be most widely promoted as a sexual performance enhancer for men when used alone, and as a sexual stimulant for women when used in combination with either saw palmetto or stinging nettle. However, no peer-respected research has been done to support these claims.
The 2000 edition of Integrative Herbal Communications published a clinical study led by M. Blumenthal. This team of scientists demonstrated that oat straw (avena sativa) stimulates the release of luteinizing hormone in rats. A rise in luteinizing hormone triggers ovulation in females and testosterone in males. Since luteinizing hormone boosts hormone levels which stimulate cell growth, some herbalists suggest this as a reason to add oat straw as a part of a bone building protocol.
Oat straw's high calcium and mineral content also promotes bone strength. The late master herbalist Dr. John R. Christopher created a plant-based calcium formula which could either be taken in capsule form or as a tea. This herbal calcium formula was used traditionally to help heal broken bones, relieve muscle cramps, and strengthen blood vessels, teeth, and nerve sheaths. Along with oat straw, the calcium formula contains horsetail, comfrey root, and lobelia.
Oat straw helps to reduce anxiety and strengthen nerves
The somewhat controversial German Commission E stated in an October 1987 publication that oat straw could be used as a nervine herb. The German government commissioned oat straw extract as an effective herbal remedy for anxiety and stress. This is most likely due to the high Vitamin B complex content contained within the herb. Oat straw's calming qualities strengthens nerves and encourages a restful night's sleep.
New studies show that oat straw extract improves cognitive performance in the brain
Two studies released in 2011 show the benefits of oat straw extract on cognitive performance. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a clinical study which showed that oat straw extract might have a positive impact on cognitive performance in healthy individuals. Another JACM study revealed that taking 1600 mg oat straw extract "acutely" improved the attention, focus, and concentration abilities in elderly adults.
Does oat straw enhance sexual performance?
There is a plethora of male sexual performance enhancers on the market which contain oat straw. Most marketers of these products misquote the 2000 Blumenthal study cited above. While there is a 1976 clinical study published on the National Institute of Health's website proving that oat straw does stimulate ovulation in female rats, there is no seriously recognized or peer-reviewed study proving that oat straw enhances either male or female sexual performance in humans.
Pubmed.gov, "Ingested oat herb extract (Avena sativa) changes EEG spectral frequencies in healthy subjects." W. Dimpfel, et al. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine May 2011; 17(5): 427-34. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21563962
Pubemed.gov, "Acute effects of an Avena sativa herb extract on responses to the Stroop Color-Word test." N.M. Berry, et al. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine July 2011; 17(7): 635-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21711204